As stated in the Certificate of Authorization (COA) application guidelines, all navigable United States airspace falls under the authority and jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), whose “primary mission is to ensure the safe and efficient oversight and management of the national airspace system (NAS).” All manned or unmanned aircraft are subject to FAA rules and regulations. FAA approval is required for any use of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Violations are subject to severe federal penalties.

Use of drones in SJSU research projects require prior approval from the Office of Research. CSU guidelines state that, “the FAA allows public universities, such as the CSU, to operate UASs for governmental research functions.” Universities intending to operate a UAS for governmental research are required to apply for an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA). Only universities with plans to use the unmanned aircraft for non-commercial purposes are eligible for consideration. The FAA does not grant authorization to individuals.

The use of an unmanned aircraft used for educational or training purposes is currently considered commercial in nature. “The FAA has indicated that it will not grant public use COAs for educational or training uses.”

For detailed information, refer to the Campus Guidelines for Applying for a Certificate of Authorization (COA) from the FAA [pdf] provided by the CSU Chancellor’s Office.